Book Review Writing Examples
Examples: Learn from the efforts of others
Learning how to write strong reviews takes time and not a little effort. Reading the reviews others have done can help you get a feel for the flow and flavor of reviews.
If I Never Forever Endeavor
Review by Hayden, age 4, Southeast Michigan Mensa
This book was about a bird who didn't yet know how to fly.
The bird has to decide if it will try to fly, but it was not sure if it wants to. The bird thought, "If I never forever endeavor" then I won't ever learn. On one wing, he worries he might fail and on the other wing he thinks of how he may succeed. He worries that if he tries, he may get lost in the world. That makes him want to stay in his nest where he's safe.
I think this book would help other children to learn that trying new things can be scary, but sometimes when we try, we can find things that make us happy too. And this book will help others know that mistakes are okay and part of learning.
My favorite part is that the bird tried and learned that she could fly. I also liked that I read this book because it gave me a chance to talk to mom about making mistakes and how I don't like making them. Then I learned they are good and part of learning.
Boys and girls who are 3 to 8 years old would like this book because it teaches about trying a new thing and how it's important to get past being scared so you can learn new things.
I give the book 5 stars since I think it's important for other children to learn about courage.
Flesh & Blood So Cheap
Review by Umar B., age 8, Central New Jersy Mensa
I liked this book. People who are interested in national disasters and US history as well as immigration will most probably be interested in reading this book.
Readers can gain knowledge of what it was like to work in New York City in the early 1900s. One of the things that was especially interesting was that there were no safety laws at work. Also, there was a big contrast between the rich and the poor. Some people may not like this book because it is very depressing, but it is an important event in history to remember.
This book was very well written. It has black and white photos along with descriptions of the photos. These photos give us a better idea of what people's lives were like. This book is suitable for 9-20 year olds.
I give this book 5 stars.
Galaxy Zach: Journey to Juno
Review by Young Mensan Connor C., age 6, Boston Mensa
Journey To Juno is the second book of the Galaxy Zack series. It is just as good as the first one. It's awesome!
Zack joins the Sprockets Academy Explorers Club at school. They fly on a special trip to Juno, a new planet no one has ever visited. Zack gets paired up with Seth, the class bully, and that's dreadful but Zack is excited when he finds a huge galaxy gemmite. A gemmite that large had not been found in 100 years! Kids will love this book!
Boys and girls will both like it. It's an easy chapter book with pictures on every page. I love the illustrations. I think ages 6-8 would like this but younger kids would like the story being read to them.
My favorite parts are the galactic blast game (it is similar to baseball except there are robots playing), recess at Zack's school where everything is 3-D holographic images, the rainbow river in a crystal cave on Juno, and the galaxy gemmite that Zack finds on Juno. I also loved when a life-size holographic image of his Earth friend appears in Zack's room because he calls him on a hyperphone. I give this book one hundred stars! There is a "to be continued" at the end so you have to read the next book see what's in store. I can't wait to find out what happens!!!
I Capture the Castle
Review by Lauren W., age 17, Mensa in Georgia
Dodie Smith's novel I Capture the Castle is a journey through the mind of a young writer as she attempts to chronicle her daily life. Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain has recently learned to speed-write, and she decides to work on her writing skills by describing the actions and conversations of those around her.
Cassandra lives in a fourteenth-century English castle with an interesting cast of characters: her beautiful older sister, Rose; her rather unsociable author father and his second wife, artist-model Topaz; Stephen, the garden boy; a cat and a bull terrier; and sometimes her brother Thomas when he is home from school. One fateful day they make the acquaintance of the Cotton family, including the two sons, and a web of tangled relationships ensues.
While I definitely recommend this book to other readers, I would recommend it to older teenagers, mainly because it will resonate better with them. The writing is tame enough that younger teens could also read it, but most of the characters are adults or on the verge of adulthood. Older readers would take the most from it since they can not only relate, but they may also better pick up on and appreciate Cassandra's sometimes subtle humor.
Over the course of the novel, Cassandra undergoes a definite transformation from child to mature young adult, even though it's only over the course of several months. I love that I could see into her mindset and read exactly what she was feeling when she thought out situations. Her thoughts flowed well and moved the book along very quickly.
Cassandra's narrative voice is wonderful. She is serious at times, but also very witty, which makes for an engaging read. It feels absolutely real, as though I'm reading someone's actual journal. Sometimes I forget that I am reading a story and not a real-life account. Her emotions and the dialogue are so genuine, and they are spot-on for a seventeen-year-old girl in her situation.
Cassandra has many wonderful insights on life, on topics ranging from writing to faith to matters of the heart. I personally have had some of the same thoughts as Cassandra, except Ms. Smith was able to put them into words.
Capture the Castle should be essential reading for aspiring writers, those looking for historical fiction or romance, or anyone who loves reading amazing classic books. Dodie Smith is an exceptional writer, and I Capture the Castle is a book that will never become obsolete.
Review by Zander H., age 12, Mid-America Mensa
I appreciated Frankenstein's Cat for its fascinating explanation about the often baffling subject of bioengineering and its sister sciences. Emily Anthes explains the many sides of today's modern technology, such as gene modification, cloning, pharmaceutical products (from the farm), prosthesis, animal tag and tracking and gene cryogenics. This book provides a well-rounded summary of these complicated sciences without being boring or simply factual. Her real world examples take us on a journey from the farm, to the pet store and then from the pharmacy to the frozen arc.
Have you ever wondered if the neighborhood cat is spying on you? Read about Operation Acoustic Kitty and find out if this feline fantasy fiction or fact. Do you think bugs are creepy? What about a zombified cyborg beetle? Is Fido so special that you want two of him? Money can buy you an almost exact copy of your pooch BUT don't expect the same personality. Emily Anthes makes you crave more information. She makes you want to know the future of Earth's flora and fauna, as well as humanity itself.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who desires a guide to the future of biological science and technology. Frankenstein's Cat is best read by the light of a glow-in-the-dark fish, while cuddling your favorite cloned dog and drinking a glass of genetically modified milk.
Review by Connor C., age 6, Boston Mensa
About Marsupials is the title so the book is about...marsupials, of course. It's non-fiction. I really think everyone would like the book. I think someone who likes animals would especially like to read it.
The glossary of facts in the back of About Marsupials is the most useful part. I thought the most interesting parts were that some marsupials have their pouch at their back legs and one marsupial, the Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby, is very small but can jump 13 feet wide!
Kids in the 4-8 age range would like this book. Even though it's not a story book, 4 year olds would like the few words on each page and they would love the beautiful pictures. But older kids would like it because of all the facts in the back of the book. There's a lot of information for each animal. I think boys and girls (and parents) would enjoy reading it. This book is very interesting. I give it 4 stars.
Mapping the World
Review by Umar A., age 10, Central New Jersey Mensa
Every day, people around the world use maps. Whether it is an airplane pilot or businessman, housewife or museum group, maps have always and will continue to provide useful information for all.
Mapping the World talks about the uses of maps, as well as how to differentiate between the type of map projection and type of map.
In this series, we travel to the past and learn about historical mapmakers, from Claudius Ptolemy (who stated the idea that the Earth is at the center of the universe) to Gerardus Mercator (who created one of the most widely used map projections) and more. This series goes into tremendous detail on the cartographer's life and maps. We then journey to the present era to learn about map projections and the diverse types of maps used today. You might ask, "What is the difference between the two? They sound the same to me." No map projection is perfect, because you cannot really flatten a sphere into a rectangle. An uncolored projection could be used in many ways. We could use it for population concentration, highways, land elevation, and so many other things!
For example, we could make a topographic map of the U.S., which shows land elevation. We could make it a colorful map that shows the amount of pollution in different areas, or it could be a population map, or it could even be a map that shows the 50 states, their capitals and borders! Our last step in this amazing excursion is the near future, where we see some hypothetical solutions as to what maps will be used for. Currently, we are working on better virtual map technology.
Now, scientists have been able to put maps on phones. Back in the early 1900s, people had to lug a lot of maps around to find your way from place to place, or just keep asking for directions. Now, all the information is on a phone or global positioning system (GPS). It is amazing how much maps have changed technology and the world in this century.
The Mapping the World 8-book set goes into amazing levels of detail. It is a long read, but it gives an immense range and amount of information that you would not find in any other book or series on maps. The flowing way the chapters and books are organized makes it easy to link passages from different books in this series together. Mapping the World is a treasure box, filled with the seeds of cartography. Collect and plant them, and you soon will have the fruits of cartography, beneficial to those who want to be cartographers. Use this series to the utmost, then the fruits of mapping will be sweet for all who endeavor to succeed in cartography.
Writing a book review is a common assignment in college and even beyond if you decide to have a career in this profession. Personally, I love writing reviews of any kind mostly because that way I can put all my thoughts about the subject on the paper and also I can help with college essays. Before we go on, I have to mention it is different when you write a review for yourself i.e. your blog or website and for your professor in college. You can’t throw around some expressions you wouldn’t even say in front of your professor, you know what I mean? Since book reviews are common writing task in college but they’re still largely misunderstood, I’m going to help you out with this practical guide to ensure you get a good grade every time.
Why are reviews important in the first place?
To an untrained eye, reviews may seem pointless. What’s the point of writing about something when other people and your professor have already read the book? Isn’t it enough to talk about it in the class?
Just as movie reviews (see the “how to guide” here) develop your critical thinking, the book reviews do the same. It is not enough to read a book and call it a day; you have to establish your opinion, your likes, and dislikes. When a professor gives you this assignment, he/she wants to see your abilities to analyze the book and use vocabulary skills to discuss different segments of the plot. Plus, you have to demonstrate your ability to organize the review so that you mention all aspects of the book in an easy-to-follow manner. Otherwise, a reader would just get confused.
Book review vs. book report
Since we are accustomed to writing book reports at a very young age, it comes as no surprise we don’t think book reviews are different than a book report. Did you also have a book report in your mind when you read the title? If so, you’re not alone.
Contrary to the popular belief, book reviews and book reports are two different types of writing. Knowing how they differ is the first step towards writing a high-quality paper that will guarantee a good grade.
Book reports are usually reserved for elementary, middle, and high schools while book reviews are more of a college-level assignment. That said, it’s not uncommon for professors to ask for book reports either.
Book reports usually revolve around topical details about the author and the plot of the story. Here, you have to explain biographical information about the author starting from the day he/she was born to other info such as marital status, children, education, some other works, and so on. You know the drill! After that, you have to accurately summarize the story you’ve just read.
On the other hand, a book review is a more sophisticated approach to understanding and discussing a book. It doesn’t revolve around a summary of each section, but you have to carry out a thorough analysis. As you grow and develop as a student, so does your ability to think critically. You don’t just sum up what you’ve just read, but analyze every piece of the puzzle in a bid to demonstrate the ability to pay attention to detail, engage critically thinking, and so on. Here, you have to be careful that you aren’t, actually, just retelling the story.
While book reviews may contain some elements of book reports e.g. author, characters, plot, the emphasis is to provide a more detailed insight, go deeper and elaborate strengths and weaknesses of the book, and discuss the elements of the story.
You know the difference between book reports and book reviews, now what? Now you’re ready, to begin the assignment.
Things to do before you read
The entire process starts before you even read the book. Here, you have to do a little bit of research to find out the following:
- Author info: who is he/she? What is the author’s typical style? Has this person won awards? Is the author known for controversial behavior, statements etc.?
- Genre: is this book a fiction, romance, nonfiction, poetry, and so on? What is the purpose of the book?
- Title: is it interesting or uninteresting? What can you find out about the book just by reading its title?
- Preface, intro, and table of contents: what does the author say in the preface and intro? Does he/she provide background information for the book you’re about to read? Is the book arranged in chapters or sections?
In order to write a thorough book review, you have to pay attention to everything about the book, which is why writing down the information about the author, genre etc. is strongly advised. That’s why you’ll need a pen and notebook where you can write everything.
While you’re reading
There is no need to wait until you finish reading the book to start writing your review. As mentioned above, the process begins early. While you’re reading the book you should take notes about different aspects of the story. For example:
- Quotes: are there some memorable quotes that stand out?
- Key ideas: what is the primary idea of this book? What makes the book groundbreaking or different than others?
- Characters: who are the main characters? How do characters affect the story?
- Themes, motifs, and style: what motifs and themes stand out and how do they contribute to the story? Are the motifs in book effective or not? How would you describe the writer’s style?
When you write this down while reading, you won’t leave out some important information later.
I finished reading, now what?
After reading the book, you have to create an outline and write your review. The outline is essential here mostly because it helps you organize your book review in a coherent manner. Since analyzing a book is vast subject, the outline helps you stay on the right track and avoid drowning in the sea of ideas, thoughts, and story details.
An outline for book review should look like this:
Introduction or background
This is self-explanatory; the section should contain the title, publication information, author’s name and short background (one or two sentences), the purpose of the writing, main ideas, presenting characters etc. Naturally, the introduction should also feature your thesis about the book, which is the last sentence of this paragraph.
Always act like you’re writing a review for people who haven’t read the book. Of course, since your professor assigned this particular book, it means he/she read it. That said, if you assume “they know what’s going on”, you’ll leave out important information. The introductory paragraph should be short, concise, and informative.
Short summary of plot and characters
While book report is all about providing a summary of all aspects of the book, in book review it’s important to keep it short. Strive to deal primarily with the pressing issues. Why? The reason is simple; since book reviews require thorough analysis you will not be able to discuss every idea and character in detail. Focus on the principles and characters you agreed or disagreed with, some notable events that are important to the plot, and so on.
This particular segment is the “meat” of your paper and the primary reason behind the review. Here, you analyze and evaluate the book, provide a critical assessment of the book’s central argument, and include evidence to support that argument. The purpose of the book review is to critically evaluate what you’ve just read, not to just inform readers about it. There’s a fine line between the analysis or assessment and summary, which is why this section will take a bit longer to write since you have to pay more attention not to cross that line.
Sometimes your professor will assign and book and name a central idea to focus on throughout the review. In other instances, you’ll have to review the book and distinguish some important ideas that spread through the story. In this section, you uncover symbolism (if present), motifs and other details that are crucial to the overall meaning of the book.
Make sure you leave a paragraph to discuss what worked for you or what didn’t. How does the book compare to other works of the author or other books in this niche? Did the book appeal to you in an emotional, logical, or some other way? While this is the part where you write about the personal experience while reading this book, make sure you stay away from using “I think, I like, I dislike, I this or I that”. Also, make sure you support everything you mention with strong evidence i.e. examples from the book.
Conclusions are important too. The goal is to finish your review with a bang! Here, you should provide a short summary of ideas and other details discussed in the review and mention whether you would recommend it to someone or not. The paragraph should be short and concise.
Book review writing tips
- Consider how does the book agree or clash with your view of the world
- How were your views and opinions challenged by the text?
- Consider political, economic, social issues that author assessed or try to address throughout the book
- Pay attention to author’s style of writing and look at his/her cohesion, flow of the text, and use of precise words
- Discuss the author’s descriptions and narration
- While using quotes is encouraged, make sure you don’t overdo it
- When mentioning characters, instead of restating what the author wrote about their appearance and general characteristics, go in-depth and discuss whether some important character evolved or how does he or she affect the book and its story
Book reviews are common assignments in colleges and universities throughout the world, but you shouldn’t confuse them with book reports. Also, bear in mind that writing a review for your blog is different than for your professor. While your opinion matters too, and you should include personal evaluation, make sure everything you say is supported by examples from the book. In order to write a high-quality book review, always strive to provide a more detailed insight about the text you read, analyze, evaluate, and think critically. That way, you’ll avoid summarizing the plot.